Posts Tagged ‘ballistic missiles’

US-South Korea hold military drills amid tension

August 21, 2017

BBC News

South Korean protestors hold placards that read "stop war exercise" during a rally denouncing the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) joint South Korea-US military exercise, near the US embassy in Seoul on 21 August 2017

The US and South Korea are conducting annual military drills which consistently infuriate Pyongyang, despite appeals to halt the exercise.

Last week North Korea appeared to back down from a threat to send missiles towards the US Pacific island of Guam, but said it would watch US actions.

It has already condemned these drills as pouring “gasoline on fire”.

Washington describes the drills as defensive in nature, but the North sees them as preparation for invasion.

China and Russia had in July proposed a halt on military exercises in exchange for a freeze on missile tests.

But Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that the military exercises were “not currently on the table as part of the negotiation at any level” and the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercises were going ahead as planned.

About 17,500 US troops and 50,000 South Korean troops are involved in the exercises, which will last for about 10 days.

After North Korea’s threats against Guam and an almost unprecedented war of words over Pyongyang’s repeated missile tests, analysts have warned that the joint drills may be seen as a provocation at a particularly sensitive time.

On Sunday an editorial in North Korea’s official government newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, said the exercises would worsen the state of the peninsula and warned of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war”.

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in responded on Monday that Pyongyang should not use the exercises “as a pretext for aggravating the situation”, reported Yonhap news agency.

The drills have also been met with some opposition in South Korea, where protests were held on Monday.

Observers have been watching the north and south watch each other for more than 60 years.

The US and South Korea hold two sets of war games every year, involving a massive number of troops and military hardware.

Foal Eagle/Key Resolve is usually held in spring, while Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) is in autumn.

Both involve land, sea and air military drills and computer simulations. Held in South Korea, they have also involved practice drills for terror and chemical attacks in recent years.

South Korean marines participate in landing operation referred to as Foal Eagle joint military exercise with US troops Pohang seashore on 2 April 2017 in Pohang, South Korea.
Foal Eagle, held earlier this year, saw US and South Korean troops practice a beach landing. GETTY IMAGES

They can also sometimes involve troops from other allies – last year’s UFG saw the participation of nine other countries.

What has the North said?

Both events routinely anger North Korea, which insists that the exercises are rehearsals for an invasion.

The country’s media rhetoric over the drills has steadily intensified over the past three years and these exercises are being portrayed as a particularly strong provocation, BBC Monitoring reports.

In 2014 North Korean media warned of an arms race but used comparatively restrained language, saying Pyongyang’s “self-defensive measures” – its nuclear and missile testing – would become “annual and regular” as long as the exercises continued.

The next year, state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned that the drills represented “deliberate defiance against our active efforts to ease tension”.

And in 2016, state-run paper Minju Joson warned that North Korea would “constantly strengthen our self-defensive nuclear deterrent” in response. Within weeks, Pyongyang tested a nuclear warhead.

Emergency services personnel wearing protective clothing participate in an anti-terror and anti-chemical terror exercise as part of the 2016 Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) at Yeoui subway station on August 23, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.
Last year’s UFG saw an anti-terror drill in Seoul simulating a subway chemical attack. Getty

This year, Sunday’s Rodong Sinmun said the situation on the Korean peninsula was a “touch-and-go crisis that has never been experienced before”.

Earlier this year during Foal Eagle/Key Resolve, it warned it would “mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword of justice”.

But while it has frequently threatened serious retaliation, North Korea usually ends up conducting shows of force, such as firing missiles or moving troops.

Last week, in what was seen as a de-escalation, leader Kim Jong-un said he would watch “a little more” before launching missiles in the direction of Guam.

US soldiers give first aid to a mock victim in a tent during a joint medical evacuation exercise as part of the annual massive military exercises, known as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, at a South Korean Army hospital in Goyang, northwest of Seoul, on 15 March 2017.
Medical evacuations are also practiced during the exercises. Getty

Have the drills caused conflict before?

Depending on the political climate, the drills have at times exacerbated tensions between the two sides.

The UFG drill in 2015 took place amid high tensions, which resulted in North and South Korea exchanging artillery fire across the border.

Military officials took the unusual step of halting the UFG while emergency talks were held between the North and South. The drill resumed several days later.

The US and South Korea say that the exercises are purely for defence purposes, and based out of a mutual defence agreement they signed in 1953.

They also say the exercises are necessary to strengthen their readiness in case of an external attack.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-40957725

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U.S., South Korea begin computer-simulated drills amid North Korea tensions

August 21, 2017

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

U.S. Air Force U-2 Dragon Lady takes part in a drill at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, August 21, 2017.

Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean and U.S. forces began computer-simulated military exercises on Monday amid tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, amid reports that Pyongyang has generated at least $270 million since February despite U.N. sanctions.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the joint drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, were purely defensive and did not aim to raise tensions on the peninsula.

“There is no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean peninsula as these drills are held annually and are of a defensive nature,” Moon told Cabinet ministers.

“North Korea should not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace nor should they engage in provocations that would worsen the situation, using (the exercise) as an excuse,” he said.

The joint U.S.-South Korean drills will continue to Aug. 31 and involve computer simulations designed to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea.

The United States also describes them as “defensive in nature”, a term North Korean state media has dismissed as a “deceptive mask”.

“It’s to prepare if something big were to occur and we needed to protect ROK,” said Michelle Thomas, a U.S. military spokeswoman, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.

North Korea views such exercises as preparations for invasion and has fired missiles and taken other actions to coincide with the military drills in the past.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

North Korea’s rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland has fueled a surge in regional tension and U.N.-led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change Pyongyang’s mind.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in presides over a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, August 21, 2017. Kim Ju-hyoung/Yonhap via REUTERS

SANCTIONS UNDERMINED

Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Monday that a confidential United Nations report found North Korea had continued to evade U.N. sanctions by “deliberately using indirect channels” and had generated $270 million in banned exports since February.

The “lax enforcement” of existing sanctions and Pyongyang’s “evolving evasion techniques” were undermining the United Nation’s goal of getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Kyodo quoted the report as saying.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Aug. 5 that could slash the North’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. The latest sanctions were imposed after North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

U.S. President Donald Trump has warned that North Korea will face “fire and fury” if it threatens the United States.

The North responded by threatening to fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam, but later said it was holding off on a decision while it waited to see what the United States would do next.

There will be no field training during the current exercise, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

The United States has about 28,000 troops in South Korea. About 17,500 U.S. service members are participating in the exercise this month, down from 25,000 last year, according to the Pentagon.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Sunday the reduction in the number of U.S. troops taking part reflected a need for fewer personnel and was not because of tensions with Pyongyang.

Other South Korean allies are also joining this year, with troops from Australia, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand taking part.

China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, has urged the United States and South Korea to scrap the drills. Russia has also asked for the drills to stop but the United States has not backed down.

North Korea Media Blitz Against U.S., South Korea — “Like pouring gasoline on fire” — North Korea warns of ‘merciless strike’ ahead of US-South Korea drills (Same as August 22, 2016)

August 20, 2017
NORTH Korea has issued a fresh warning to the US as its foe gears up to conduct military exercises on its doorstep with ally South Korea.

PUBLISHED: 12:00, Sun, Aug 20, 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52, Sun, Aug 20, 2017

US demonstrates how close F-16 jets can get from North Korea

An annual war game is due to take place in South Korea could be the spark which tips the region into conflict, with a war of words over the past few months threatening to escalate into conflict.North Korea and the US have been trading barbs, backed up by missile launches on both sides as a sign of strength and defiance.The joint military exercise, named the “Ulchi Freedom Guardian” (UFG), kicks off Monday and will see thousands of troops from both sides taking part.

The 10-day exercise was described by Pyongyang as “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

Numbers from the South’s defence ministry claim 17,500 US soldiers will participate in this year’s drills, a drop from last year.

North Korea’s warning over US drillGETTY

The region is a tinderbox which could ignite at any moment

Pyongyang views the exercise as a highly provocative rehearsal for war, which despot leader Kim Jong-un feels threatened by.The regime’s mouthpiece, the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, fired off a warning ahead of the exercise.It said: “The joint exercise is the most explicit expression of hostility against us, and no one can guarantee that the exercise won’t evolve into actual fighting.

“The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire and worsen the state of the peninsula.”And they threatened the dawn of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war” on the Korean peninsula, blaming the US.It continued: “If the United States is lost in a fantasy that war on the peninsula is at somebody else’s doorstep far away from them across the Pacific, it is far more mistaken than ever.

“The Trump group’s declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK … is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

North Korea’s warning over US drillGETTY

Pyongyang views the exercise as a highly provocative rehearsal for war

“The Korean People’s Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies.”It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted.”The region is a tinderbox which could ignite at any moment, with tensions on a knife edge.

US president Donald Trump previously warned the hermit kingdom would be met with “fire and fury” if they crossed from empty threats into action.

Dictator Kim Jong-un declared he would fire missiles at the US territory of Guam, releasing photos of him presiding over a map with a large arrow pointing towards the island.

North Korea’s warning over US drillGETTY

North Korea and the US have been trading barbs, backed up by missile launches

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises will be like pouring gasoline on fire

Rodong Sinmun

He later scrapped the idea, but indicated he could still strike depending on how the US acts.General Jeong Kyeong-Doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for South Korea, outlined the dire situation which he branded “more serious than at any other time”.

 

Mr Kyeong-Doo said: “If the enemy provokes, (our military) will retaliate resolutely and strongly to make it regret bitterly.”Amid the fragile situation South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the two countries were considering scrapping bringing in two aircraft carriers to take part.

North Korea’s warning over US drillGETTY

They threatened the dawn of an “uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war”

Despite the rumours it may be scaled back in the wake of North Korea’s aggression, neither side confirmed this.The drills, involving the computer-simulated UFG exercise, dates back to 1976.
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http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/843555/North-Korea-US-warning-military-drill-gasoline-fire-Donald-Trump-Kim-Jong-un
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North Korea warns of ‘merciless strike’ ahead of US-South Korea drills

Story highlights

  • The threat appeared on the official government newspaper
  • Tensions between the two nations have grown in recent week

(CNN) — North Korea warned Sunday that the upcoming US-South Korea military exercises are “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”

Pyongyang also declared that its army can target the United States anytime, and neither Guam, Hawaii nor the US mainland can “dodge the merciless strike.”
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The messages in Rodong Sinmun, the official government newspaper, come a day before the US starts the Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with South Korea.
Tensions between the US and North Korea have grown in recent weeks.
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Just last week, Pyongyang said it had finalized a plan to fire four missiles toward the US territory of Guam. State media reported that leader Kim Jong Un would assess the US’ next move before giving launch orders.
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Kim would “watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees,” a North Korean statement said last week.
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kim jong un

But US military and Trump administration officials said the 10-day military exercises set to begin Monday, would go ahead as scheduled.
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The annual drills antagonize Pyongyang, which sees them as practice for an invasion. However, the US and South Korea maintain they are purely defensive.
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“The Trump group’s declaration of the reckless nuclear war exercises against the DPRK … is a reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war,” Rodong Sinmun said, using the acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the nation’s official name.
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It described North Korea as the “strongest possessor” of intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the US mainland from anywhere.
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“The Korean People’s Army is keeping a high alert, fully ready to contain the enemies. It will take resolute steps the moment even a slight sign of the preventive war is spotted,” it said.
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It did not provide any details on what it meant by “preventive war.”
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The Pacific Island of Guam
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Both US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis said last week that the US was keeping military options on the table in dealing with North Korea.
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Tillerson said peaceful diplomatic pressure was the preferred way to get Pyongyang to stop its testing of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles. But he added that the diplomatic approach “has to be backed with military threat” if North Korea chooses to move forward with destabilizing actions.
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Mattis also made clear the US’ willingness to use force if North Korea steps out of line.
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“In close collaboration with our allies, there are strong military consequences if the DPRK initiates hostilities,” he said.
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Promise from South Korea’s President

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As tensions escalate, South Korean President Moon Jae-in promised his citizens last week there “will be no war on the Korean Peninsula ever again.”
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Moon, who took office in May, announced on his 100th day in office that US and South Korean policies are aligned on North Korea.
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US President Donald Trump assured South Korea he would consult with them before making any military decisions on North Korea, according to Moon.
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Moon Chung-in: We do not want war

Moon said North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons technology was “nearing” a red line, which he described as “completing an ICBM and weaponizing it with a nuclear head.”
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North Korea claims it has successfully miniaturized a nuclear weapon. While some experts believe it may have the technology, others caution that even if it doesn’t, North Korea should be taken at its word.
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“If North Korea provokes again, it will face with much harsher sanction and won’t stand it in the end. I want to warn North Korea to do no more dangerous gambling,” Moon said.
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His comments about averting war echoed similar statements he made Tuesday that only South Korea could give consent to initiate any conflict with the North.
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“The government, putting everything on the line, will block war by all means,” Moon said.
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China weighs in

Related image

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China has urged both Washington and Pyongyang to tone down the rhetoric and stop actions that inflame tensions, missile testing on North Korea’s side and military exercises on the US and South Korean side.
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China’s Global Times newspaper, a state-run tabloid, was scathing of South Korea’s decision to proceed with the drills.
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“The drill will definitely provoke Pyongyang more, and Pyongyang is expected to make a more radical response,” it said in an editorial.
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“If South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise.”
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Includes videos:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/20/asia/north-korea-south-korea-us-military-drills/index.html

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From last August:

Nervous Japanese hold drill in case North Korea fires missiles over them — “Drills with a sense of emergency.”

August 19, 2017

Reuters

KOTOURA, Japan (Reuters) – Residents of a town on the Japanese coast held evacuation drills on Saturday to prepare for any launch of North Korean missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, that would fly over their homes.

As sirens blared from speakers in the town of Kotoura, children playing soccer outside ran to take shelter in a school, along with their parents and their team coach.

“I’ve been concerned every day that something might fall or a missile could fall in an unexpected place due to North Korea’s missile capabilities,” said the coach, Akira Hamakawa, 38.

North Korea’s rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles has fueled a surge in tension across the region.

U.S. President Donald Trump warned North Korea this month it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.

The North responded by threatening to fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam. Any such missiles would have to fly over western Japan.

While North Korea later said it was holding off firing toward Guam, tension remains high and annual joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea beginning on Monday are likely to enrage Pyongyang.

Nearly 130 people took part in the drill in Kotoura, which has a population of 18,000, a town official said.

For 10 minutes, people ducked down covering their heads with their arms. Many of those taking part said they were worried.

North Korea has in the past threatened to attack Japan, a staunch U.S. ally and host to U.S. military bases.

Japan is the only country in the world to be attacked with nuclear weapons.

Authorities are publishing notices in newspapers, on television and online, advising people to take shelter in robust buildings and to keep away from windows should missiles land.

Evacuation drills, however, have only been held in remote towns such as Kotoura.

A North Korean missile could reach Japan in about 10 minutes.

“A lot of people participated in the drill with a sense of emergency,” said Yosuke Suenaga, the cabinet counselor of situation response and crisis management.

Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha; Writing by Tim Kelly and Junko Fujita; Editing by Robert Birsel

Where did North Korea get its missile technology?

August 16, 2017

A new media report claims North Korea was able to develop its missile system after buying rocket engines on the black market in Ukraine. Kyiv denies the link. In this international mystery, the clues lead to Russia.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko visits a rocket plant (picture alliance/dpa/epa/M. Markiv)

Anyone who asks Vitaly Zushtchevski about the allegations being made against his former employer is quickly interrupted. “It is a lie,” said the ex-deputy production manager for engines at Yuzhmash, the former Soviet rocket manufacturer based in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro. According to a New York Times report published on Monday, North Korea’s surprising progress in missile technology may be linked to Yuzhmash.

The engineering plant is in financial difficulty, and this may be the reason why criminals and former employees reportedly smuggled old Soviet engines, or parts of them, into North Korea. The Times referred to a study conducted by Michael Elleman from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London and assessments by US intelligence agencies. The newspaper did not provide evidence, only clues.

Read – German weapons makers profiting from Korea tensions

Aiding a technological leap

Elleman has analyzed North Korean medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Hwasong 12 and 14 types, whose extended range holds the potential to hit the United States. He concluded that the surprisingly fast development in the last two years has only been possible with the help of foreign suppliers, meaning countries from the former Soviet Union. Even the German missile expert Robert Schmucker from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) agreed with Elleman’s analysis, although he avoided any explicit accusations.

Experts believe that the one-chamber engine used in the latest Hwasong missiles is reminiscent of the Soviet RD-250 rocket engine, which had two chambers and was developed in the 1960s.

It is difficult to prove whether the RD-250 was also manufactured by Yuzhmash. Vitaly Zushtchevski said that they received these engines from Russia, where they were “produced in low quantities.” Elleman suggested that they were also made in Ukraine. In his IISS study, he wrote that “hundreds, if not more” RD-250 engines have remained in Russia, as well as in Ukraine, adding it is also possible that Moscow is Pyongyang’s supplier.

North Korean rocket (picture alliance/AP Photo)Does North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile contain old Soviet technology?

“We have never produced the types of engines that are shown in the New York Times article,” said Zushtchevski, who worked at Yuzhmash for almost five decades. The retired engineer confirmed that since the end of the company’s cooperation with Moscow, triggered by the annexation of Crimea, the rocket plant in Dnipro has been “virtually dead.” Smuggling technology into North Korea is unfathomable to him. Kyiv and Yuzhmash officials both denied the Times report. Elleman suspects the government in Kyiv knew nothing about the smuggling.

Read – North Korea: Who would have to go to war with Trump?

Shadow of the past

It is the first time that Yuzhmash, the former manufacturer of the giant Soviet SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, has been suspected of violating UN sanctions or any other international treaties. However, Pyongyang has shown its interest in Ukrainian expertise in the past. In 2012, two North Koreans were tried in Ukraine for spying on Yuzhmash.

In 2002, there were press reports claiming that Ukraine wanted to supply Iraq with modern radar systems. Kyiv denied the reports and no radar systems were found in Iraq. But there were cases of verified smuggling. In 2005, the then-prosecutor general of Ukraine admitted in a newspaper interview that a group of Ukrainians and Russians illegally sold 18 cruise missiles to China and Iran in 2001.

Kim Jong-un watches a rocket test (Reuters/KCNA)North Korean rocket technology has made significant strides in recent years

Oleg Uruski, former head of the State Space Agency of Ukraine, finds it improbable that the same could have happened in this case, saying that the state has a multistage monitoring system. However, Uruski did not rule out that the clues point to wrongdoing. “A crime is possible in every sphere,” he said.

Pointing the finger at Moscow

Observers in Kyiv believe that the Times article may be part of a targeted campaign by Russia. In an analysis published on Tuesday, the Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) in Kyiv wrote that the US publication shows “signs of an information attack on Ukraine.” Among other things, the aim of the article is apparently to divert attention from “their own missile technology shipments to North Korea” and to discredit Ukraine, especially in the eyes of the US.

“Russia shares a border with North Korea, so one can deliver anything, even entire engines,” said Mykhailo Samus, the CACDS deputy director for international affairs. Ukraine, on the other hand, would have logistical problems, he said.

TUM’s Robert Schmucker said that the latest story is about more than just the engines. “What about the missiles? The information itself is of no use; you need production facilities, technical equipment and above all, good quality control,” he said. “A lot more must have come from Ukraine than just a few engines.”

http://www.dw.com/en/where-did-north-korea-get-its-missile-technology/a-40107204

Iran’s risky nuclear deal threat

August 15, 2017

Commentary

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is under pressure from Washington and conservative forces in Tehran. Threats of revitalizing the nuclear problem actually diverge from his interests, says DW’s Matthias von Hein.

Iranian nuclear plant (dapd)
By Matthias von Hein

Politics are often paradoxical, no more so than in the Middle East. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has just cast doubt on one of his greatest foreign policy successes. But one must assume that Rouhani does not actually wish to cancel the international nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. His threat of backing out of the agreement if the US imposed further sanctions can be seen as a cry for help – not to let things get out of hand.

The nuclear deal, of course, has many opponents in Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Tehran, as well. Iranian opponents of the deal are mobilizing – all the more so since Rouhani won a landslide re-election victory in May. The conservative establishment, led by the powerful Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has done everything it can since then to limit Rouhani’s power and torpedo Iran’s opening to the West, something desired by the president and the majority of the population. Hassan Rouhani invested significant political capital in rapprochement with the West and the nuclear deal. Now he is confronted with the fact that Iran is being denied its share in the deal by a government in Washington that has set a confrontational course with Tehran by imposing new sanctions, overtly looking for ways of letting the entire nuclear deal fall through, and openly speaking of regime change in Tehran.

US sanctions affect EU businesses

The US sanctions policy has also caused European companies to exercise caution with business commitments in Iran, as such dealings can lead to penalties from Washington. This is especially true for banks and financial institutions. Without their help, however, trade cannot gain any momentum because of problematic financing. Ultimately, European companies are not regulated in Brussels, but instead, in Washington, and Iran’s integration into the world economy can fall by the wayside.

Matthias von Hein (DW/M. von Hein)DW’s Matthias von Hein

Washington’s aggressive rhetoric strengthens the hawks in Tehran, and Rouhani must take this into account. Just last Sunday, parliament increased the budget for the country’s missile program and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. And of course, Iranian leaders are watching North Korea. Kim Jong-un is using the threat of nuclear weapons to ensure the survival of his regime – all the more so when international pressure mounts on him. And he has been successful, so far. Tehran may now be wishing it had some of its nuclear options back on the table.

The nuclear deal has made the world safer

One thing is certain: The deal is working. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has now approved six Iranian reports on compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran is much further away from creating nuclear weapons than it was three years ago. The world has become much safer. However, one cannot expect the nuclear deal to attain goals that it was not created for, including Iran’s good conduct in other political issues like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

It is nonetheless becoming more important for Europeans to continue their support for the nuclear deal and also back the moderate political forces in Iran in general, just as the European Union did 10 days ago when the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, flew to Tehran for Rouhani’s inauguration.

http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-irans-risky-nuclear-deal-threat/a-40104951

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Rouhani Says Iran Could Quit Nuclear Deal in ‘Hours’ if New U.S. Sanctions Imposed — Iran votes to boost military defence spending

August 15, 2017

DUBAI — Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers “within hours” if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.

“If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time — not a week or a month but within hours — to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations,” Rouhani told a session of parliament broadcast live on state television.

Iran says new sanctions that the United States has imposed on it breach the agreement it reached in 2015 with the United States, Russia, China and three European powers in which it agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on six Iranian firms in late July for their role in the development of a ballistic missile program after Tehran launched a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit.

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea passed by the U.S. Congress. The sanctions in that bill also target Iran’s missile programs as well as human rights abuses.

The United States imposed unilateral sanctions after saying Iran’s ballistic missile tests violated a U.N. resolution, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon Tehran not to undertake activities related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such technology.

It stopped short of explicitly barring such activity.

Iran denies its missile development breaches the resolution, saying its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons.

“The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the (nuclear deal), has broken its word on the Paris agreement and the Cuba accord…and that the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” Rouhani said.

Trump said last week he did not believe that Iran was living up to the spirit of the nuclear deal.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom, Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Angus MacSwan)

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BBC News

Iran votes to boost military defence by $500m

Sayyad-3 missiles on display at an undisclosed location in Iran, 22 July 2017
Iran said the funding for its missile defence was “not in violation” of a 2015 nuclear deal. Getty Images

Iran’s parliament has voted in favour of boosting investment in its missile defence and foreign operations programmes by more than $500m (£386m).

The bill, which received overwhelming approval, is in response to the latest round of US sanctions against Tehran.

The US imposed sanctions after a ballistic missile test in January.

Tehran says this violates the 2015 nuclear deal, which US President Donald Trump has called “the worst ever” and threatened to tear up.

The Iranian legislation must pass a second vote before submission for final approval.

Iranian MPs shouted “death to America” after Speaker Ali Larijani announced the result of the vote.

Of the members present, 240 parliamentarians out of 244 voted in favour of passing the bill.

It proposes that the government allocates an additional $260m for the “development of the missile programme” and the same amount to Iran’s Quds Force, a branch of the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the official state news agency Irna said.

Mr Larijani said the move was meant to counter Washington’s “terrorist and adventurist activities” in the Middle East, AFP news agency reports.

Image result for Abbas Araghchi, photos

Abbas Araqchi

The 27-point bill will also impose sanctions on US military and intelligence officials in the region.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, said the new bill was not in violation of the 2015 agreement limiting the country’s nuclear programme.

The nuclear deal, between Iran and six world powers including China, Russia and the UK, is largely seen as the best way to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

The agreement saw crippling economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for the country restricting its sensitive nuclear activities.

Mr Trump has recently backed away from his key campaign promise to withdraw from the nuclear agreement.

Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Mr Trump that he risks political suicide if he scrapped the nuclear deal with Tehran.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40916827

North Korea Backs Off Threat to Hit Guam

August 15, 2017

Hours after China took steps to support U.N. sanctions, North Korean state media says Kim Jong Un decided not to fire on Guam

An image from a news bulletin by North Korea state media about the country’s missile launch in July.
An image from a news bulletin by North Korea state media about the country’s missile launch in July. PHOTO: KSNA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Updated Aug. 14, 2017 11:51 p.m. ET

North Korea pulled back its threat to attack a U.S. territory, after days of trading increasingly bellicose rhetoric with U.S. President Donald Trump, and hours after China took its toughest steps against Pyongyang to support U.N. sanctions.

North Korean state media said Tuesday that Kim Jong Un had made his decision not to fire on Guam after visiting a military command post and examining a military plan presented to him by his senior officers. But it warned that he could change his mind “if the Yankees persist in their extremely dangerous reckless actions.”

The turnabout came as the U.S. and China were engaged in a delicate contest on two fronts, with each trying to push the other to handle the North Korea situation in the way it preferred, even while both sparred over trade issues that they insisted were unrelated.

Beijing said it would ban imports of North Korean coal, iron and seafood, starting Tuesday, measures that hew to sanctions passed by the U.N. Security Council this month targeting Pyongyang’s nuclear-arms program. The timing of the announcement was a response to Mr. Trump’s plans to kick off a probe into China’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property, according to people with knowledge of the Chinese leadership’s thinking. That probe was officially announced later on Monday.

“This action on North Korea should help ease the renewed trade tensions,” a government adviser involved in making policy said. China had been expected to disclose such steps and said in an official statement that its move was made to enforce the latest U.N. sanctions.

One Week of Escalation With North Korea
An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP

Beijing’s move on North Korean imports followed a weekend phone call between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on how to deal with North Korea’s advances in developing nuclear weapons and missiles.

Mr. Trump on Friday warned that U.S. military resources were in place, “locked and loaded,” should North Korea “act unwisely.”

North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile program has advanced rapidly, and a missile test in late July put the continental U.S. firmly in range of a strike. Pyongyang this month threatened to lob missiles toward the Pacific island of Guam.

The advances have prompted questions about whether Mr. Kim’s regime obtained Soviet-designed rocket engines. The liquid-propellant rocket engines North Korea has been using in recent tests were probably acquired through illicit channels originating in Ukraine or Russia, a report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies said Monday.

Stephen Noerper, a professor of political science at Columbia University and senior director at the Korea Society, warned tensions on the Korean peninsula were liable to quickly ramp up again, given upcoming joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea slated to begin next week in South Korea.

“I don’t think we should overassume,” he said. “The escalatory nature of things on the peninsula are that you can go from zero to 10 very quickly…This could get very hot again.”

The North Korea Crisis

A timeline of the escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang

  • July 4, 2017

    North Korea test-launches its first intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon capable of hitting the mainland U.S.
  • July 28, 2017

    A North Korean missile flies even higher in a new test, establishing that if launched at a standard trajectory it could hit the contiguous U.S. states and possibly go as far as Denver and Chicago.PHOTO: KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

  • Aug. 5, 2017

    In a show of unanimity, the United Nations Security Council approves new sanctions against North Korea.
  • Aug. 6, 2017

    North Korea calls the sanctions “a frontal attack on our republic and violent infringement on our sovereignty.”
  • Aug. 8, 2017

    President Donald Trump says North Korea will be met with “fire and fury” if it continues threatening the U.S.PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

  • Aug. 9, 2017

    North Korea says it is considering plan to launch four missiles to surround Guam with “enveloping fire.”
  • Aug. 10, 2017

    Mr. Trump ratchets up his rhetoric, saying maybe his threat of fire and fury “wasn’t tough enough.”
  • Aug. 11, 2017

    Mr. Trump tweets that military solutions to the crisis are “in place, locked and loaded.” Separately, Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping discuss North Korea by phone. China says it urged restraint. The U.S. says the leaders affirmed the importance of the new sanctions.
  • Aug. 12, 2017

    The Trump administration announces plan to investigate alleged Chinese intellectual-property theft.
  • Aug. 14, 2017

    China announces ban on imports of coal, iron and seafood from North Korea.
  • Aug. 15, 2017

    North Korea says it has decided not to carry out missile attack on Guam.PHOTO: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/GETTY IMAGES

Source: Staff and news reports

Earlier on Monday in Seoul, before news of Mr. Kim’s decision, Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. must take threats from North Korea seriously, despite fresh skepticism from South Korea that Pyongyang has the ability to reliably deliver an intercontinental ballistic missile to the U.S.

“I honestly think it’s an academic issue whether it can happen today or happen tomorrow,” Gen. Dunford told reporters after wrapping up meetings with South Korea’s president and other defense officials.

Gen. Dunford noted that North Korea had conducted missile and nuclear tests “at a historic rate”—at least 15 tests in the past year.

But uncertainty remains about the North’s ability to endanger the American homeland or even Guam.

Those doubts were underscored Sunday by a senior South Korean defense official, who said that both Seoul and Washington had concluded Pyongyang lacks the missile re-entry technology to successfully launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the continental U.S.

John Delury, a China historian and North Korea expert at Yonsei University in Seoul, said Mr. Kim’s decision was likely a response to more tempered language from the Trump administration over the weekend, including from Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo, national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and Secretaries of State and Defense Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis.

“The signaling from the Trump administration dialed it down a notch—we have to give them credit,” Mr. Delury said. Referring to an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Mr. Delury added, “When’s the last time the secretary of state and the secretary of defense wrote an op-ed together?”

Mr. Trump’s move on Monday was part of an effort to juggle Washington’s competing policy goals with China, balancing the desire for more cooperation in controlling North Korea against a desire to curb the $347 billion bilateral trade deficit.

Mr. Trump made no mention of China’s import ban while at the White House signing ceremony on Monday in which he directed aides to explore the prospect of sanctioning Beijing for the “unfair” acquisition of American technology. He also offered no indication that tensions with China had eased: He said as he signed the directive that “this is just the beginning.”

The directive was the first formal China trade action taken by a president who has long blasted the country for improperly aggressive commercial practices.

“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access,” Mr. Trump said, echoing a complaint made frequently by U.S. firms seeking entry to the world’s second largest economy. “The theft of intellectual property by foreign countries costs our nation millions of jobs and billions and billions of dollars each and every year,” he added.

While Mr. Trump’s tone was tough, the process he launched was measured.

He specifically ordered his trade representative to begin a study into whether to launch a formal investigation about complaints that Beijing forces multinationals to license valuable technology to Chinese companies as the price of entry into China’s markets. Aides said if the investigation does proceed, it could take a year before any decisions are made on imposing trade sanctions.

Mr. Trump has said he would cut Beijing slack over trade disputes if he felt the Chinese were being helpful in reining in Pyongyang. But there is a difference of opinion within the administration on whether to keep economic and security issues on separate tracks, said a person who was briefed on the process of formulating Monday’s China order.

The White House had originally planned to unveil the China probe in early August, but put the announcement off until after China voted on Aug. 5 in support of the Security Council resolution on North Korea, according to people familiar with the deliberations.

Asked whether the White House was linking its handling of China trade pressure with the North Korea issue, a senior administration official said “these are totally unrelated events.”

China, too, separated the issues. “The North Korean nuclear issue and the China-U.S. trade issue are totally different and it is not appropriate to use one as a tool to keep pressure on the other issue,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday before the move to curb North Korean imports.

She said China has been improving its regulations on intellectual property rights, while boosting social awareness of the issue.

North Korean state media didn’t immediately comment on China’s announcement.

China is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for more than 80% of North Korea’s external trade for the past five years.

China has long shied away from severe punitive steps, such as cutting off fuel and food supplies, that could trigger the collapse of the North Korean regime.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly questioned China’s willingness to ratchet up pressure on North Korea.

In recent months, his administration moved toward unilaterally tightening sanctions, targeting Chinese companies and banks the U.S. says are funneling cash into Pyongyang’s weapons program.

Beijing has resisted Washington’s suggestions that it isn’t doing enough to pressure Pyongyang, saying the U.S. must directly engage North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com, Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and Jacob M. Schlesinger at jacob.schlesinger@wsj.com

Appeared in the August 15, 2017, print edition.

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-bans-key-north-korean-imports-1502703030

 

Iran Sending Warships to the Atlantic Ocean

August 15, 2017

BY: 
August 14, 2017 2:45 pm

Iran is preparing to send a flotilla of warships to the Atlantic Ocean following the announcement of a massive $500 million investment in war spending, according to Iranian leaders, who say the military moves are in response to recent efforts by the United States to impose a package of new economic sanctions on Tehran.

The military investment and buildup comes following weeks of tense interactions between Iran and the United States in regional waters, where Iranian military ships have carried out a series of dangerous maneuvers near U.S. vessels. The interactions have roiled U.S. military leaders and prompted tough talk from the Trump administration, which is currently examining potential ways to leave the landmark nuclear deal.

Iran’s increasingly hostile behavior also follows a little-noticed United Nations report disclosing that Iran has repeatedly violated international accords banning ballistic missile work. Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress and some policy experts also believe that Iran has been violating some provisions in the nuclear agreement governing nuclear-related materials.

With tensions over sanctions and Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement growing, Iranian parliamentary members voted to increase war spending by more than $500 million. This is at least the second recent cash influx to Iran’s military since the landmark nuclear deal that unfroze billions in Iranian assets and saw the United States awarding Tehran millions in cash.

Iranian lawmakers reportedly shouted “death to America” as they passed the measure, which boosts spending to Iran’s contested missile programs by around $260 million.

The bill also imposes sanctions on U.S. military officials in the region. Additionally, Iranian officials are moving to set up courts to prosecute the United States for the recent sanctions, which Iran claims are in violation of the nuclear deal.

Meanwhile, following several aggressive encounters with U.S. military vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian military leaders announced that they would be leading a flotilla of warships into the Atlantic Ocean.

“No military official in the world thought that we can go round Africa to the Atlantic Ocean through the Suez Canal but we did it as we had declared that we would go to the Atlantic and its Western waters,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari was quoted as saying over the weekend.

“We moved into the Atlantic and will go to its Western waters in the near future,” Sayyari said.

U.S. military officials reported Monday yet another “unsafe” encounter with an Iranian drone that was shadowing a U.S. carrier in the Persian Gulf region and reportedly came close enough to an American F-18 jet to risk the pilot’s life.

As with other similar encounters during the past months, the Iranian craft did not respond to repeated radio calls by the United States. While the drone is said to have been unarmed, it is capable of carrying missiles.

Iranian leaders have been adamant that the country will not halt its work on ballistic missile technology, which could be used to carry nuclear weapons.

The United States has issued several new packages of sanctions as a result of this behavior, but U.N. members have yet to address the issue, despite recent reporting that found Iran is violating international accords barring such behavior.

“Little-noticed biannual reporting by the UN Secretary General alleges that Iran is repeatedly violating these non-nuclear provisions,” Iran Watch, a nuclear watchdog group, reported on Monday.

“Thus far, the United States has responded to such violations with sanctions and designations of Iranian and foreign entities supporting Tehran’s ballistic missile development,” the organization found. “However, the U.N. and its member states have not responded. More must be done to investigate allegations of noncompliance and to punish violations of the resolution.”

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a proponent of a more forceful policy on Iranian intransigence in the region, told the Free Beacon that the Trump administration must make it a priority to address Tehran’s increasingly bold military activity.

“Iran was emboldened to flex its military muscle after eight years of President Obama’s passivity and his delivery of cold, hard cash to the regime, but they should make no mistake: President Trump was elected to put a stop to rogue regimes pushing America around, and the American people know he will address the world’s lead sponsor of terrorism with resolve,” Duffy told the Free Beacon.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, said that Iran’s recent behavior shows the regime has not moderated since the nuclear deal was implemented. The Obama administration sold the deal in part on promises that it could help bring Tehran into the community of nations.

“Every time the Islamic Republic has cash, it chooses guns over butter,” Rubin told the Washington Free Beacon. “What the [nuclear deal] and subsequent hostage ransom did was fill Iran’s coffers, and now we see the result of that.”

“What [former President Barack] Obama and [former Secretary of State John] Kerry essentially did was gamble that if they funded a mad scientist’s lab, the scientist would rather make unicorns rather than nukes,” Rubin said. “News flash for the echo chamber: Iranian reformist are just hardliners who smile more. Neither their basic philosophy nor their commitment to terrorism have changed.”

Update 6:52 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Rep. Duffy.

Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

Trump Eyes China Sanctions While Seeking Its Help on North Korea

August 13, 2017

BEIJING — In a diplomatic gamble, President Trump is seeking to enlist China as a peacemaker in the bristling nuclear-edged dispute with North Korea at the very moment he plans to ratchet up conflict with Beijing over trade issues that have animated his political rise.

Mr. Trump spoke late Friday with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping of China, to press the Chinese to do more to rein in North Korea as it races toward development of long-range nuclear weapons that could reach the United States. Mr. Xi sought to lower the temperature after Mr. Trump’s vow to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, urging restraint and a political solution.

But the conversation came as Mr. Trump’s administration was preparing new trade action against China that could inflame the relationship. Mr. Trump plans to return to Washington on Monday to sign a memo determining whether China should be investigated for intellectual property violations, accusing Beijing of failing to curb the theft of trade secrets and rampant online and physical piracy and counterfeiting. An investigation would be intended to lead to retaliatory measures.

The White House had planned to take action on intellectual property earlier but held off as it successfully lobbied China to vote at the United Nations Security Council for additional sanctions on North Korea a week ago. Even now, the extra step of determining whether to start the investigation is less than trade hawks might have wanted, but softens the blow to China and gives Mr. Trump a cudgel to hold over it if he does not get the cooperation he wants.

While past presidents have tried at least ostensibly to keep security and economic issues on separate tracks in their dealings with China, Mr. Trump has explicitly linked the two, suggesting he would back off from a trade war against Beijing if it does more to pressure North Korea. “If China helps us, I feel a lot differently toward trade, a lot differently toward trade,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Mr. Trump has sought to leverage trade and North Korea with China for months, initially expressing optimism after hosting Mr. Xi at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, only to later grow discouraged that Beijing was not following through. The effort has now reached a decisive point with the overt threats of American military action against North Korea — warnings clearly meant for Beijing’s ears.

China is widely seen as critical to any resolution to the nuclear crisis because of its outsize role as North Korea’s main economic benefactor. China accounts for as much as 90 percent of North Korea’s total trade and supplies most of its food and energy while serving as the primary purchaser of its minerals, seafood and garments.

But even though the effectiveness of the new United Nations sanctions depends largely on China’s willingness to enforce them, the Trump administration so far has failed to come up with enough incentives to compel China to do so, analysts said.

In their phone conversation on Friday night, Mr. Xi stressed that it was “very important” for the two leaders to maintain contact to find “an appropriate solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” according to a statement carried in the Chinese state-run media. The language indicated China wants to push forward with a diplomatic proposal for North Korea that the Trump administration has brushed aside.

The Chinese statement urged the “relevant sides” — a reference to North Korea and the United States — to “avoid words and actions that exacerbate tensions.” It did not explicitly criticize North Korea, which issued its own searing rhetoric all week, including a threat against Guam, and did not draw a clear distinction between Washington and Pyongyang.

In its own account of the call, the White House emphasized points of concurrence. “President Trump and President Xi agreed North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behavior,” read a statement from the White House issued early Saturday morning. “The presidents also reiterated their mutual commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

If Mr. Trump was trying to move Mr. Xi toward bolder action against the North, he did so while the Chinese leader is preoccupied with his own domestic political machinations, attending to a once-every-five-year political shake-up in the top ranks of the Communist Party.

Mr. Xi is believed to be at the beach resort at Beidaihe on the coast east of Beijing, where the leadership conducts a secretive retreat every summer, sometimes emerging casually dressed in open neck shirts and Windbreakers for photographs on the strip of sand along the beachfront.

The final stages of the political process to win Mr. Xi’s favor for a place on the standing committee of the party, now a seven-member body that makes the final decisions on the nation’s affairs, is underway among the resort’s villas and hotels, China’s political analysts said.

The selection will be unveiled at a national congress in Beijing sometime between September and November. Until then, almost all other matters, including foreign policy, are put on hold, the analysts said.

Still, the leadership has been vexed that the Trump administration has paid scant attention to China’s proposal for a “freeze for freeze” solution to North Korea. Described many times by China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, the notion calls for North Korea to freeze its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program at current levels in exchange for the United States drawing down military exercises off the Korean Peninsula.

So far, the United States has dismissed the proposal as a nonstarter. Instead, to China’s irritation, the United States is looking to increase missile defenses in South Korea. In some respects, though, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has tried to please Beijing by pledging that Washington does not seek to overthrow the North Korean leader, and does not plan to send American troops north of the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea.

Mr. Xi is said to be exasperated with Kim Jong-un, a leader much his junior, whom he openly disparaged during his meetings in Florida in April with Mr. Trump, American officials say. But despite the frustration with Mr. Kim, China still prefers to have what it considers a relatively stable North Korea under Mr. Kim rather than a collapsed state that could result in a united Korean Peninsula on its border, with American troops in control.

In rebuffing the “freeze for freeze” proposal, Washington has raised suspicions in Beijing about its true intentions, said Yun Sun, a China expert at the Stimson Center in Washington. Chinese leaders believe the United States sees its true rival as China, a mammoth economy, and not North Korea, one of the poorest countries on earth, Ms. Sun said. In this estimation, Washington is merely using North Korea to mount a military containment strategy around China, she said.

“The Chinese operate from the conviction that China remains and will always be the No. 1 strategic threat to the U.S., so the issue of North Korea will be used against China — through sanctions, provocations and everything else,” she said. China was also annoyed, Ms. Sun said, that the United States refuses to discuss a “grand bargain” or “end game” on the future of the Korean Peninsula. Of most interest to China, she said, is the future disposition of American forces in South Korea, now standing at 28,500 troops.

The phone conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi will be followed by a visit from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who is expected in Beijing on Monday. General Dunford will also visit South Korea and Japan.

The general’s visit, planned earlier this summer, is the first by a senior American official to Beijing since Mr. Tillerson met with Mr. Xi in March.

Much of the diplomacy between China and the United States has been conducted between Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the Chinese ambassador in Washington, Cui Tiankai. Those talks have concentrated on Mr. Cui’s efforts to stave off punishing trade tariffs against China that are gathering momentum in White House discussions.

During his two-day visit, General Dunford is likely to use the opportunity to drive home arguments for the Chinese to put more pressure on the Kim government, said Brian McKeon, who was a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

A major point of dispute will likely be American plans to deploy more missile defenses in South Korea, he said. China vehemently opposes the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, that has already been deployed in South Korea, calling it a threat to its own security.

“I would expect that Dunford will make the usual request that they put more pressure on the regime to behave, and to recognize that Kim’s actions threatens our core interests, which means we will have to continue to take measures that Beijing doesn’t like, for example the deployment of Thaad,” Mr. McKeon said.